Photo Friday and other posts for the last several weeks has brought you images from various incarnations of Mardi Gras – in Mobile, in Bay St. Louis, in New Orleans – and this week is no different. Having taken over 700 photos for two parades, I imagine that I’ll be bringing you photos from Mardi Gras for the next several weeks. One of the things about Mardi Gras is that there is so much to see, so much is going on that it is difficult to know where to focus your attention.
Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans are like parades on steroids. I don’t know any other way to describe them. There are bands and more bands. Float after float comes through. There are numerous marching krewes. It is overwhelming and a visual feast that can be too much stimulation for those who aren’t prepared.
At the beginning of each parade, are the royalty floats. Every krewe elects a king and queen and the hierarchy extends to maids and dukes. The royalty costumes in most krewes are incredible – elaborate concoctions of of feathers, beads, and material. In some krewes the royalty costumes are so heavy that those wearing them are lashed to stands to prevent them fro literally wilting under the weight. The costumes are recycled, but they are adapted for the season’s theme. This year the theme for the Krewe of Iris – the oldest all-female krewe in New Orleans – was Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and all the floats were some variation on those things you enjoy doing with your girl friends.
Once the royalty floats have passed, all of the other floats begin to roll. Just like with the costumes, the floats are recycled – you’ll see the same figureheads on the floats – but are adapted to each year’s theme.
As I said earlier, Iris is the oldest all-female krewe in New Orleans, and one of their traditions is that all riders wear masks and white gloves. The other tradition – and what makes Iris one of my favorite parades is that most floats throw beads that are unique not only to the krewe (a highly collectible item for each krewe are their own dubloons and their krewe-specific beads) but to the individual float. Iris also throws iris-themed jewelry (bracelets that often match the float-specific beads), flowers, and hand-painted sunglasses.
If you are considering making it to Mardi Gras in 2017, I highly recommend making it to Iris, which will be celebrating its 100th birthday.
Besides the floats, there are the various marching krewes, which can be as entertaining as the floats. One of my favorite marches in Iris are the marching flower ladies.
After the marching flowers,, my favorites are the rolling Elvises. Living in Mississippi, Elvis is a religion.
While I love the marching krewes in Iris, my favorite marchers are in Tucks, so make sure you check back next week for those photos!
The other part of a Mardi Gras parade are the marching bands. Often when a band marches in one parade, they are actually scheduled to march in several – particularly those bands that travel any distance to be a part of the festivities. They may march in a Friday night parade and then again on Saturday and Sunday. It can take bands many hours – 4-6 from the time they line-up until the time they are through the end of the parade route. When you factor in that parading is a multi-day event, it is no wonder that the kids in the bands often wear looks of utter exhaustion.
The other thing that strikes me about the kids in the marching bands is that some of the marchers are tiny, particularly with the bands from New Orleans.
The girls who march with the bands are equally fierce…although they are often doing it in heeled boots.
Although this isn’t the greatest photo, I include it because in all the bands that march in Iris each year, in all the moments when I could miss it, somehow I’ve been photographing this particular young man on the right side of the photo (appearing to tip his hat) for the last four years. This year was perhaps the first year that I did not capture him looking directly at my lens. I’d know him anywhere 😉
As I sorted through the hundreds of photos I took, one of the things that I realized is that I’ve got to get better at determining what my purpose is for shooting an event like Mardi Gras. What is it that I want to convey with my photos? What do I want to reveal through my images? Sometimes that might be just to capture the event in all of its incredible glory, but I think that to create a more compelling series of photos, there should probably be a narrative that I am shaping. My goal will be to determine that and then shoot. With these larger Mardi Gras parades, I think it might well be the fatigue that permeates them – from the marching bands to the riders in the floats to the participants on the street.
Welcome to another edition of the Photo Friday link-up! Y’all are really the best, and I am constantly in awe of the work that you post each week. Thank you for joining us!
The last added link came from Capturing Life’s Little Moments – sharing an adorable photo of a sweet black lab (I’m a sucker for black labs). If you missed some of the links that were added later in the weekend, make sure you stop by and visit them!
As always, I can’t wait to see what you have for us this week! thank you for supporting each other so beautifully!